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Starbucks Frappuccino Light Syrups Now Contain Gluten

May 6, 2010 by  
Filed under News

Starbucks launched a new “However-you-want-it” frappuccino drinks nationwide this week, and in many places sooner. The new Light Syrups (Only the light version) contain gluten. I asked to see the bottles on my last trip into a Starbucks and sure enough, under allergen information under the ingredients appears the words “CONTAINS: GLUTEN” in big bold letters. LIGHT SYRUPS ONLY

It was actually really difficult to find this information. It is not listed on their website, in their new product press release, or on their nutrition brochure. The only way to confirm it is to actually look at the bottle. Starbucks has actually added to their website that they cannot claim any of their blended beverages are gluten free since the same blenders are used on all the drinks. If you ask for a clean blender for your blended drink, you can avoid the possibility of cross contamination from the new gluten-containing drinks.

How disappointing that Starbucks would not only reformulate one of their most popular drink lines, but to do it in such a way as to leave out so much of the population, the gluten free folks, is a huge step backward for the chain in a time where other retailers and food service companies are adding GF choices.

To register your displeasure with Starbucks directly:

  1. Go to their customer service page with several options of reaching them.
  2. Here is a link to their Blog announcing the new syrups and you can comment directly beneath the announcement.

From Jennifer (Starbucks employee) on the blog link above: “The new Frappuccino Coffee Light product does contain Gluten but neither our coffee or creme bases contain gluten.  So if you have concerns over the intake of gluten, the new Frappuccino light product is not recommended.”

If you want a light-er frappuccino, you can order a regular frappuccino and ask for low fat or non fat milk, but DON’T order a “Frappuccino light.”

The chocolate chips used in the Double Chocolate Chip and Java Chip Frappuccino also contain gluten, but the mocha syrups do not. “In response to our mocha sauce having gluten in it, the package ingredients do not call out gluten specifically.  In general , no beverages at Starbucks can be considered gluten free due to cross contamination so I would leave it up to you to determine what you consume based on your specific intolerance.  One note, our mocha sauce has not changed with the launch of this new program, so if you’ve consumed it in the past it is the same mocha sauce.”

Because of this change causing a possibility for cross contamination, Starbucks no longer claims any of their blended drinks are gluten free. If you are interested in Starbucks options, steer clear of their chocolate chips and their “Light” frappuccino drinks. If you order a frappuccino, ask for a clean pitcher to be used to be sure it hasn’t contained either of those ingredients right before your drink is made.

They are also carrying pre-wrapped gluten free snacks that vary such as Kind Bars, Food Should Taste Good Chips, Peeled Fruit Snacks, Lucy’s Cookies. In the UK, you can also pick up a pre-wrapped sandwich on Gluten Free bread.


27 Responses to “Starbucks Frappuccino Light Syrups Now Contain Gluten”
  1. Amanda says:

    No surprise, but good of them to label it.

    On my many calls to Starbucks to verify gluten content, I was told to NEVER get their cold/blended drinks because several of the drinks did contain gluten and the risk of cross contamination was high – especially given the way they just rinse containers out between drinks.

  2. Challice says:

    So only the Mocha Lites CONTAIN Gluten but the other have a cross contamination risk.

    Did I understand that correctly?

  3. Nancy says:

    That’s the way I read it as well.

  4. Deanna says:

    I had one of these (not light, but regular) at the airport the other day. No WONDER I felt like death after that. Ugh, as if I needed another reason to avoid this stupid chain and their horrible coffee.

  5. Molly says:

    Creme bases are gluten free but their chocolate chips are not!

  6. Erin says:

    I am glad I read this because I was thinking of trying a new frappuccino this week. Thank you for the information.

  7. Nikki says:

    What would you recommend for coffee at Starbucks? Also, the McDonalds Frappes seem to be gluten free. I checked the ingredients list.

  8. kelley says:

    Wish I would have know this yesterday. We stopped by for a light frap drink and dd was on the couch all evening with headache, stomachache and rash.

  9. Nancy says:

    Oh no! Sorry Kelly!

  10. RP says:

    Hi, I’m the person who posed the questions Jennifer-from-Starbucks is quoted above as answering on their site. There are three kinds of syrup “thickening” base for the new drinks: regular, light, and creme. The new “light” base has gluten in the form of barley. The regular and creme bases do not. Mocha syrup added to drinks hasn’t changed. The light base also contains stevia. They have removed the high-fructose corn syrup which was used to sweeten the old version of frappuccino base.

    If you used to order a light frappucino, any flavor, it will now have gluten. If you used to rely on “only the chocolate chips have gluten, so you’re ok with a sanitized blender” rule, that is no longer true.

    Starbucks’ response to all of this, and to notifying their customers, can also be found on Gluten-Free Mom’s blog: http://glutenfreemom.typepad.com/gluten_free_mom/2010/05/a-gluten-free-call-to-action-towards-starbucks.html

    Everyone has to make his or her own choice, but after spending a month trying to get Starbucks to confirm they had added something to their drinks that was going to make me sick, my own choice is to find another coffeehouse.

  11. Laura says:

    Hi, I had a mocha today and have been sick all afternoon so I think the cross contamination got me. So disappointed as it was tasty to begin with. Does anyone else find that high fat items, along with the potential gluten cross triggers a reaction?

  12. Rachel says:

    I just went to Starbucks (in NJ) and the barrista told me not to get the creme-based frap because it contains gluten ingredients. Apparently the old ones were safe, but the new ones are not. She said they received an email about this earlier in the week.

  13. Nancy says:

    Rachel- I had a meeting with my Starbucks Manager locally to check and double check the creme based frap base after reading your comment. It is gluten free. She went through her emails and found one she thought the person you spoke to may be referring to and it said that all fraps could be cross contaminated if a clean pitcher is not used to mix your drink. They are not allowed to officially say any of the frapps are gluten free. The ingredients for the creme base are gluten free. Only the light syrups contain gluten.

  14. Jennifer says:

    I just wrote Starbucks and told them “shame on you especially since 2 years ago, you came out with the most amazing GF cake! It was just way too high in fat content to be able to eat often.” I told them I can no longer purchase Frapps at all and there isn’t much motivation to be a customer if they are going to exclude a population and make so many drinks dangerous for us.

    @carol, why are you on here if you have an attitude like that? I tried to go GF 10 years ago and it was impossible. I gave up after 6 months; now I have to and it’s fantastic that so many businesses are realizing people can’t eat Gluten. It’s already hard enough to do this without the attitude you expressed in your post. It’s downright hurtful. My grandmother has had the same attitude as you and has said as much and basically punished me at Christmas Dinner a few years ago. Everything had gluten in it….I could eat dry turkey and dry rice. As we left,she said we could come back and have salad and all the GF food she’d bought. She never even said anything about the food available or offered it while I choked down turkey and rice. But she was angry at me for not filling my plate with the food I couldn’t eat. Do you punish your friends and family too?

  15. Lynn says:

    Its too bad their frappe’s aren’t fully gluten free…I wish more starbucks carried gluten free snacks..I have to go all the way to Herald square in nyc to get it while roosevelt Island doesn’t have any gluten free goodies!

  16. Phyllis says:

    Are any of Mc Donalds fraps gluten free?

  17. Nancy says:

    Phyllis- I found this GF list online, but then I misplaced the URL to give you. I’ll put it up when I find it again.

    McFrappes Gluten Free:

    McCafe Frappes
    Frappe Caramel: Caramel Coffee Frappe Base, Ice, Whipped Cream, Caramel Drizzle
    Frappe Mocha: Mocha Coffee Frappe Base, Ice, Whipped Cream, Chocolate Drizzle
    Mocha Coffee Frappe: Base, Ice, Whipped Cream, Chocolate Drizzle

    Caramel Coffee Frappe Base:
    Water, cream, sugar, milk, high fructose corn syrup, coffee extract, natural (botanical source) and artificial flavors, mono- and diglycerides, guar gum, potassium phosphate, disodium phosphate, carrageenan, carob bean gum.

    Caramel Drizzle:
    Corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk (milk, sugar), high fructose corn syrup, water, butter, sugar, salt, pectin, disodium phosphate, artificial flavor (vanillin, ethyl vanillin), caramel color (with sulfites), potassium sorbate (preservative).

    Chocolate Drizzle:
    Corn syrup, water, hydrogenated coconut oil, high fructose corn syrup, glycerin, nonfat milk, cocoa powder, cocoa (processed with alkali), food starch-modified, disodium phosphate, potassium sorbate (preservative), xanthan gum, artificial flavor (vanillin), salt, soy lecithin.

    Mocha Coffee Frappe Base:
    Water, cream, sugar, milk, high fructose corn syrup, coffee extract, natural (botanical source) and artificial flavors, cocoa (processed with alkali), mono- and diglycerides, guar gum, potassium phosphate, disodium phosphate, carrageenan, carob bean gum, colored with (red 40, yellow 5, blue 1).

    Whipped Cream:
    Cream, nonfat milk, corn syrup, sugar, mono-and diglycerides, natural (vegetable source) and artificial flavors, carrageenan, propellant: nitrous oxide.

  18. jennifer says:

    I think starbucks will loss a lot of money because they don’t have any gluten free drinks that are safe. Shouldn’t every blender be cleaned after each drink to aviod contamination ? I work in a kitchen adwe must clean everything after we use it. I’m really starting to no like starbucks more and more. I feel they don’t care about there custmers , its all about the money. My family and I will no longer go to strabucks because of how we are treated and because they don’t have anything gluten free. Each strabucks says something diffrent one says the frapp are gluten free one says no there not. I will find a place that will sale 100% gluten free drinks and ill give them my money. Gluten free is really commen now. I can’t belive starbucks has said to go somewhere else for a gluten free drink. Oh well its their loss not mine. I find it descusting they don’t wash their blends.

  19. Danielle says:

    No wonder I have been feeling so bad! I am from oregon and I have been a religious Starbucks drinker since I was 13. I tried a mocha chip frappucino light today and I as dizzy all night! Blamed it on allergies but when I read this post I realized what I had done to my body! This is terrible we are talking about coffee! Why should there be gluten in coffee, seriously what next? what thing in my life that I enjoy that I have to cut out… Btw STARBUCKS, I drink your coffee at leat 3 times a week and now I will NOT!! Think about that!

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  22. Nance says:

    would appreciate information about dairy free and gluten free choices for lattes. I have milk and wheat allergies and need information on the specific ingredients in the lattes. Carmel syrup contains gluten. I am not sure if the mocha or java chip contain gluten or dairy. Please list this information on your site.

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